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Bandera 50km: Know Before You Go

Bandera 50km:

Bandera 50km is a single 31 mile loop which follows pretty closely what the 100km does with a few exceptions: it starts and finishes differently than the 100km and because it starts at a different point, the 100km & 50km packs are offset by five miles. This is enough that the fastest 50km runners won’t see the 100km till around Ice Cream Hill and the slowest 50km runners won’t see anyone until the fastest 100km runners lap them on their second loop. Your race will start with a half mile of jeep road to spread y’all out before you begin the tour of climbs, and you’ll need it with 250 runners in your pack. Once you reach Cairns, you will have sorted your spot out and if not, then Cairns will finish the job. You don’t have to start with Lucky, but your start is almost as nasty as the 25km course. Cairns, Boyles, Big Nasty, Sky Island, and the rocky descent leads to Ice Cream Hill and then Nachos.

One of the Sisters. (Photo: David Hanenburg)

This is a big dose of hills, one right after the other, and all of them seasoned with rocks. If you have already been here, then you know about the rocks. If you have not, it’s worse than you heard. If you trained for this, then you’ve strengthened your ankles in some form or another. This is one course where shoes are critical to your performance. Some people can run in sandals, but most veterans are wearing cushioned shoes: La Sportiva Wild Cats or the Hokas.

Most of you should carry at least one water bottle between stations and some of you might need two. It’s a time thing. The longer it takes you, the more water you will need. Some of you will carry hydration packs filled to capacity, but really this is a bit too much. With water stations every five miles, you don’t need to haul that much weight on your back. If you ran with a lighter load, it might not take you as long. I understand you need someplace to haul your other necessities, and that is understood. If the pack is the most convenient method, then wear it without water, or maybe just one water bottle tucked into it. Just because you have a 100 oz bladder, does not mean you have to fill it.

The 50km offers up the use of drop bags at Chapas & CrossRoads. Most people do not need this option, but if you do, just put a few basics at each: things like your nutritional needs or a change of socks & shirt. Very few of you will need a light, so there is no need for this. If the weather is perfect, you’ll need nothing, but if we see rain or worse, you might want a change. I like to think of drop bags as emergency kits when things go bad.

The 50km course is a puzzle to be solved. There are hills for certain, but there are plenty of flat sections too. If you waste yourself on the climbs, you wont be able to run the flats. Its all about energy management: you need to refuel the engine constantly and make good use of recovery spots like the aid stations and maybe even the up hills. If you back off and rest at intervals that make sense, you can meter out the energy required to do what you need to do for the entire race. Eat, drink, run, rest, and repeat. The 50km course starts plenty mean but then backs off. Once you clear Ice Cream Hill, it’s an easy stroll from Nachos to Chapas to CrossRoads. The inside loop from Crossroads out and back again has a few good climbs on it, but after you get back, it’s another easy roll all the way back to Lucky Peak. Lucky’s the last kicker before you roll into Last Chance and the final half mile back to the finish.

– Joe Prusaitis


David – Well look at that, here is a course flyover I created a couple years back on the 50km scamper.

(If you can’t see the video, click here.)

Talk Bandera 50km

  • Experienced Bandera 50km runners, what other tips would you share?
  • Bandera 50km rookies, any additional questions?

Additional Bandera Insight:

About the author

Joe Prusaitis Joe Prusaitis ran his first trail race in 1996, a 50 miler. Since then, he has ran at least 100 ultras, nearly 50 marathons, and a variety of other odd and various distances. Joe also sits on the USAT&F South Texas board, representing Mountain/Trail/Ultra. For more information on Joe, check out the About page where you can see his coaching and race directing projects.

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